I had just turned in my manuscript to my publisher for my new book about overcoming worry, fear, and anxiety (releasing fall, 2019) when people began to ask the obvious question, “What are you going to do now?”

I didn’t have a ready answer for that. I had originally assumed that as soon as I turned in the manuscript for that book, I would begin work on a companion Bible study. Yet when the time came, it didn’t sit well in my spirit.

Over the next couple of weeks, God shared his plan for my next season: a season of rest. People and sermons and songs all seemed to confirm what I was sensing in my spirit. Rather than jumping into the next project, as I seemed to be programmed in my DNA to do, I would take time to explore His rest.

Rest.

It’s such a simple word, yet so complex. For me, rest represents such a challenge. For the driven, can-do professional always planning months ahead, with organizational skills that could run a small country, rest always seemed like a luxury. Or more truthfully, rest seemed lazy.

Until your doctor tells you “I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but you have cancer.” She went on to explain that it required surgery, and the surgery alone had a three month recovery period. That puts a different perspective on things, yet makes it no less a challenge.

How do you put the world on halt, and tell those you’ve committed to that you just can’t do?

How do you draw the line between enough and too much?

Who determines what is adequate and appropriate and when we cross the line to excessive?

What does resting in Him even look like?

Have you ever wrestled with any of those questions?

I remember a previous time when illness overtook my body several years ago, and I was forced to put away the schedules and the to-do lists, and simply rest and recover. As healing found its way to my physical being, the familiar spirits of the busy and drivenness quickly found their way back into my routine as the proverbial traffic light on my schedule turned from red to green. All systems were go. Except for me, that often meant all systems were in over drive.

This time, I wanted to watch, listen, and learn from what the Lord was asking of me.

The Concept of Rest

We first learn of this concept of rest in Genesis 2:2, “On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work.” From the very beginning, God modeled for us the importance of rest. If the God who created the universe took time to rest from His ever important work, what makes me think that my work is so vital that I cannot rest?

As I began to dig in and study this notion of rest, God had me camp out in Hebrews 4 for a while. “God’s promise of entering his rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it…” (vs.1) I didn’t want to fail to experience something God declared vital and necessary for my well-being.

“For the good news—that God has prepared this rest—has been announced to us just as it was to them. But it did them no good because they didn’t share the faith of those who listened to God. For only we who believe can enter his rest” (vs. 2-3). Therein was the key—we can only truly rest when we believe and trust God. It’s one thing to listen, but it’s another thing to truly trust and believe Him.

Trusting God in Rest

Resting means that I choose not to strive, but to trust God to handle whatever I release from my hands. The people, the commitments, the perceptions, the to-do list.

The recent cancer diagnosis came at the foot of the holiday season. With the holidays ahead, I wanted them to matter but I also wanted to be obedient to God’s call to rest.

I had always been the spreadsheet organized planner, gifts planned, bought, and generally even wrapped by Halloween, and certainly by Thanksgiving. Ours were always the first Christmas cards in the mail, and recipients knew to expect them the day after Thanksgiving. Decorating and baking were done in plenty of time to often need a second batch.

But this year a surgery and recovery took first priority. It made me wonder. Shouldn’t our health and our mental well-being always come before the truly unnecessary except to keep up with the Joneses? How many times had I previously sacrificed sleep or eating right or time for physical exercise to fit in one more holiday activity?

Daily, and sometimes even hourly, I found myself torn between my “want to” and my “can’t do.” I wanted to honor the Lord and His call (and my body’s) to rest, while also (somewhat embarrassingly) wanting to be “holiday hero” and be all things to all people despite my body being unable.

At first I was even too ashamed to take my miserable state to the Lord and admit my turmoil.

As a young child when I asked for help and was politely countered with “You’ll be ok,” I learned, “it’s not okay to not be okay,” and “it’s not okay to need help.”

It took several decades to untangle those lies and come to the conclusion that Jesus came and died on a cross because we aren’t okay and we aren’t expected to be okay.

As I came before the Lord in my brokenness, I wasn’t sure how he’d respond.

“Lord, I’m tired and I’m weary. I’m in pain and I’m hurting. On the outside people would never know, but on the inside I feel a broken mess waiting to crumble. As we approach Christmas, Lord, it’s a struggle. My ‘want-to’ doesn’t equal my ‘can-do.’ And how do I square any of this with your desire for me to rest? Lord, I want to be pleasing in your sight. What can I offer you this Christmas that is of any value?”

When God gives you a challenge

In the stillness I heard his answer.
“Rest. You can offer me your willingness to rest. Let go of the busy. Let go of the next thing in favor of the thing in that very moment. Enjoy the very moment I have given you at the time I have given it to you. I am in the moment. Stop racing ahead and missing me waiting for you in the now moment. All I want from you is time with you.

I give you those sunrises and sunsets, which you so thoroughly enjoy. It delights me when you take time to rest and enjoy the gifts I’ve given you. Don’t miss out on the crunch of the leaves beneath your feet. The laughter of your children. The soothing cold of your favorite drink as it quenches your parched throat.

Be present with me in the moment and let me show you rest. I have already taken care of your every need. Your busyness is a lack of trust, which hurts my heart and drives you away from rather than into my presence. What can you give me this Christmas? Your presence in the present.”

That was a challenge to me.

I was challenged to look at my motivations for doing, and whether each task would bring me closer to Him or distract me from Him.

I was challenged to look for Him waiting for me in the simple things.

I was challenged to be present and in the moment with God and the ones I love, rather than anticipating what needed to happen next.

I was challenged to trust Him, that what I would get done would be the most important, and what didn’t get done perhaps never really needed doing in the first place.

How about you? Will you slow down and rest?
Will you take the time and intentionally be present in the present this holiday season?

Years from now our families won’t remember the majority of the gifts we exchanged, or the meals we served, but they will remember the time we spent in each others’ presence. And so will God.

Because of Him, #HopePrevails!

 

The Gift of Hope makes a Great Stocking Stuffer!

Hope Prevails Book and Hope Prevails Bible Study {hope for overcoming depression}

Hope Prevails and Hope Prevails Bible Study make great stocking stuffers! Available now at Amazon!

Available now through book retailers!

Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression and the companion Hope Prevails Bible Study help the reader understand how depression comes to be, recover their joy, reclaim their peace, and re-establish their true identity, while knowing their worth, remembering their secure destiny, and being confident that nothing separates them from God’s love.

 

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Rest. When God says “rest,” are you willing to rest? What if in you’re actually doing more by doing less? #inspiration #rest #God

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